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Energy – dare to disagree with Goldman

Goldman came out with a note today encouraging clients to dumb their oil holdings and lo and behold, oil is down 4% - correlation, not necessarily causation, I know, but still.Viewing the remainder of this article requires a Subscription

My 2 cents on Facebook

I just can't resist making a minor comment in the flood of articles (from the WSJ): "The interest, amounting to several billion dollars in an equity offering likely to be no more than $1.5 billion, is a sign of investor fascination with the closely held social-networking company despite a dearth of available information about its operations and financial condition." So investors are flooding into a high-flying company with virtually no information other than the name, in a structure that is disadvantageous to shareholders on every level, etc.Viewing the remainder of this article requires a Subscription

When Bullish Is Bearish

Some of you over eager grizzlies might have become a bit frustrated with all the whipsaw. I do see renewed signs of frustration in the comment stream and although I can surely empathize I must point out that I have been insisting to play this thing on a long term basis. Some of you have been waiting for something along the lines of Primary {3} for almost a year now and the writing is finally on the wall as the trend has clearly changed to the downside. Heck, even Goldman purportedly got burned trying to short the market prematurely – how’s that for sweet irony?

Bears have to learn to be patient – timing is everything, especially when trying to trade the tape to the downside. But if you know where to look you may actually get excited as the short term bearish case has strengthened greatly since Monday morning.

The first thing that stood out when I checked my SPX chart this morning is that this morning’s drop bestowed us with a beautiful motive wave – it’s almost textbook. The Zero readings accompanying yesterday’s and today’s tape are also very flat – which pointed toward a short term bounce. And that again may just be a small second wave as Minor 3 in our Clockwork Orange scenario keeps sub-dividing – which is another expression of a wind up in momentum that would release quite strongly to the downside.

Of course Soylents Green and Blue are not out of the picture by far – after all the time cycle charts I am looking at keep insisting that it’s simply not time just yet (see cartoon above). Frankly – I have more time (theta) than I’ll need to catch the big wave down and I am already mentally prepared to sit out another spike up. However, if it comes now I will be the last person to complain ;-)

That fractal on the NYSE A/D ratio is almost eery in its similarity. Based on this pattern we should push up a little bit and then drop hard for the remainder of the week. Not what I’m saying will happen necessarily – but what this fractal claims will happen. To be clear – Soylent Blue would interrupt this fractal but so far it’s quite exciting to watch.

I’m seeing a similar situation on the daily Zero – for your convenience I have used color arrows to point ou the steps in the repeating pattern. And again the pattern points toward a massive slide looming ahead.

Maybe this is all just coincidential and the pattern breaks here – meaning that the fractal does not ecompass the big move down. But again, one can’t help but wonder if this pattern may play out sometime this week.

Bottom Line

I still must caution everyone to be accumulate too much short term negative delta. If you lean bearish make sure you sit on sufficient theta to ride this thing out. Yes, I keep repeating this mantra, however based on the comments I’m seeing it seems that is one many of you guys seem to be catching on to, which is encouraging. Short term we probably push up a bit further – that’s what makes the most sense for all scenarios I am proposing above.

Another reason why I am still cautious (at least short term) is that the pattern right now looks like a textbook pre-3rd wave release chart – and my Spidey sense keeps warning me that it probably won’t be that easy. Always remember that most of the cards are usually stacked against the bears – sudden plunges happen rarely and only when you least expect them. Trade accordingly.

1:40pm EDT: A quick update inspired by a new face named ‘elliott_surfs’ who complains about the stomping his long term puts took since he got them around 1088:

See, the game is all about perception – n’est-ce-pas? Watching your long term puts melt away despite the trend moving in your favor is typical of the type of machinations you should expect ahead of big moves to the downside. Case in point the chart above. Where was the SPX trading around May 21st? Around 1055 – and yes, it snapped back quite quickly. Nevertheless the ‘risk’ put sellers and call writers assumed at that moment drove the VIX to 48. Where is the SPX trading exactly two months later? 1073 – just a few handles higher after having traded in the same 1055 cluster this morning.

But look at the VIX now – it’s around 24 – 50% less! Now, I concede that the drop from the top back in May was violent and all – understandably you would expect risk assumption to be a bit higher. But double of what it is now?

If you wince every time you look at your put premiums then understand that this is exactly the type of reaction market makers want you to have. It’s all part of the big game aptly called ’shaking out the weak hands’.

The good news is that put options are as cheap as they were two months ago ;-)

Trade accordingly.

Cheers,

Mole


The Plot Thickens

The breach of 1,106.42 on the SPX this morning is something I hoped would not happen:

This event shifts things around a little bit. The immediate downside scenario has lost a lot of credibility. It’s possible we are completing a Minuette (b) wave but the prior wave looks like a textbook (a)-(b)-(c), so let’s not kid ourselves. Chances now are we push into 1,127 at which point the bears better put up a fight - if not we might be talking Soylent Green. Not before reeling in a few more bears of course - just to squeeze them a few handles after (how many bear traps have we been enduring now since March 2009?).

On Wednesday I said this:

“….This would be followed by Minor B, the first half of which would look
to the bears like the onset of Minor 3 to the downside. Which would be
tantamount to a bear trap clusterfuck of death star like proportions. Not
a pretty picture.”

Trading is pretty easy actually - just imagine the scenario that will hurt most market participants and it’s almost guaranteed to play out. At least since the prop desk monkeys at Goldman Sucks are running the show that is. Which in itself was the genesis of Geronimo - but that’s a different story.

I wanted to visualize the full extent of the drop in the Euro for you rats. We’re roughly talking a 50% retracement since the late November highs. That’s quite a drop in one quarter. Compare that with the tiny correction we have seen in equities and you wonder - who’s right? Currency traders or whoever is continously putting an emergency floor underneath the tape the second buying volume is drying up?

Seems to me that we are destined to revisit that red diagonal trend line which should now pose as resistance. This also roughly correlates with the target zone for gmak’s Gartley count. If we don’t reverse there I am afraid it’s green all the way. Monday will be an important day for both the bears and the bulls.

If you’re holding long term puts - do you yourself a favor and don’t even look at them. Yes, that’s right - Mr. VIX has dropped below 20 yet once more. It seems to be slowly riding down that lower border of its 2.0 Bollinger - exactly what I was warning about a week ago.

Damn - I hate to be right sometimes…

Cheers,

Mole


GS Black Cross in Affect

Michael Davey/CD… with a brief look at bellwether Goldman Sachs (GS)

A picture tells the story. The 200-day crossed the 50-day on GS at mid-month, suggesting any emotional rise a reasonable short-term trading opportunity for attacking short. With a head-tail developing on the day, a GS short entry, with the above moving averages as closing-basis benchmarks, looks rather textbook.

That means you’ll lose money trying to short this, I’m sure enough…so don’t try this at home. But for the sake of selling textbooks I think it is worth noting/following.

Regards

Mole here: Michael alerted me to some very interesting developments today in interest rates - in particular on the 3-month IRX which ramped up 35% today. Now by accident I pulled it up on my $VIX chart which dons a 2.0 BB and what I saw is well worth sharing:

It’s almost scary how faithful the IRX has become to snapping back inside its 2.0 BB. Based on that we should see a drop in the coming days - unless of course this is some type of third wave developing and that BB is about climb higher. Keeping my eye on this one - very interesting (pun intended).

Cheers,

Mole


US Consumers At Crossroads As Spread Between Visions Of Present And Future At Record Divergence

Yesterday's most recent data from the Conference Board's Confidence Index recapitulates very well the Economic Inquisition purgatory that living in America has become: pain and suffering now, coupled with the promise of salvation and financial bliss at some point in the future. Of course, on a long enough timeline we are all dead, so it is only fitting that the administration, whose slogan had something to do with tangible change, is gradually encroaching on the Catholic Church's turf in an all out war for the souls of America's taxpayers as tangible becomes increasingly ephemeral and, well, intangible (save for unemployment and the wads of electronic cash deposited in Goldman Sachs' employees bank accounts - both of those are all too real). While the CBCC number came in at about the expected reading of 52.9 (from 50.6 in November), all of the "improvement" in confidence came from rosy future expectations, which rose to a two year high of 75.6 (from 70.3 previously). As for the present: current conditions plunged to another record low of 18.8. Never before has the differential between present pain and future hope been so wide.

The impact of this divergence politically is all too obvious. The voting population, which has been extremely patient, and keeps hoping that the future will finally bring something better and in line with oh so many promises, may very soon change their mood and realize that the present is here to stay, regardless of what the Fed manipulated capital markets demonstrate. When that happens watch for some interesting election fireworks on this side of the Potomac river.

Reading between the lines of the CBCC indicates that Obama and CNBC's grand plan to get consumers to spend, spend, spend again has fizzled. Autobuying intentions dropped to 3.8 from 4.5 in November, the lowest read in over a year, when the SAAR was 10.5 million. The double dip in the auto sales will soon be upon us. Furthermore, buying intentions of major household appliances held at a weak 23.7: Cash for Bidets can't come fast enough. Most troubling, however, homebuying intentions have plunged to a near-thirty year low: at 1.9, the percentage of Americans planning on buying a house is the lowest since 1982.

And just in case you thought that shellshocked US citizens will look to get the hell out of Dodge, at least temporarily, to take advantage of that strong, strong dollar and travel abroad, think again. The percentage of Americans planning a vacation in the next six months fell to 35.7, the lowest since April. The David Rosenberg-penned "frugal consumer" is here to stay, which can only mean that both the Fed and the US Government will become buyers of first, last and everything inbetween resort, as the traditional component of US GDP (sorry David Bianco, you are unabashedly wrong in your "consumer is irrelevant" propaganda). Maybe it is time to dust off all those Russian Politics 101 manuals, in our search of how to defeat Soviet Style Communist fiscal and monetary policy, which have so thoroughly penetrated the United States of America itself.

Small Chinese Company Tells Goldman To Take A Hike, Refuses To Pay $80 Million In Derivative Losses

It appears that even after thoroughly dominating the US legislative, judicial and executive branches, the long tentacles of the squid have been no better than the Mongolian hordes at overcoming the Chinese Wall (which is ironic seeking how easy it is to ignore the same construct internally between the firm's prop and flow traders...and yes, we will be posting our response to Goldman shortly, we have not forgotten). In the meantime, half a world away, a small Chinese power generator, Shenzhen Nanshan Power, is blatantly refusing to honor contracts with Goldman Subsidiary J. Aron for $80 million in derivative losses, and it appears that China itself has decided to stand behind the small company.

Reuters reports:

Shenzhen Nanshan Power (000037.SZ) (200037.SZ) said in a statement that it received several notices from J. Aron & Company, a trading subsidiary of Goldman Sachs (GS.N), for at least $79.96 million as compensation for terminating oil option contracts.


"We will not accept the demand by J. Aron for all the losses and related interests," said Nanshan, in line with the stance it took last December.


"We will try our best to negotiate with J. Aron and resolve the dispute peacefully...but the possibility of using a lawsuit can not be ruled out when talks fail," it added.


"J. Aron told us in one notice that if we do not pay the money, they will reserve the right to launch a lawsuit and will not send us any further notice."


The State Assets Supervision and Administration Commission said in September that it would back state-owned companies in any legal action against the foreign banks that sold them oil derivatives, which resulted in losses when oil prices dived late last year. [ID:nPEK14474]


A Beijing-based Goldman Sachs corporate communication official declined to comment.

Not sure what Hank Paulson's former firm would comment: alas the Chinese communist party still has to be filled with Goldman alumni. That being said, this is precisely the track that Goldman has been focusing on for the past few years. At this point, the firm realizes all too well that dominating power politics in China in the near futures is far more critical than complete control over D.C., as there is little the world's most important company can do domestically in the context of taxpayer capital transfer without a full fledged revolution.

h/t Sean

„Do You Read Zero Hedge?“ A Review of Zero Hedge’s Most Popular Articles of [All Time|2009]

True, the decade is not really over, but no one called 1930 the "last year of the 20's," and given the reflective mood that seems to grip all of Western society whenever a year ending in "9" draws to a close, well, we thought we'd better embrace the trend now so that when some idiot with a pair of glow-in-the-dark "2010" glasses with holes in the zeros for his eyes tries to convince us to watch Roy Scheider over and over again in a celebratory, all-day, marathon screening of "2010," well, we can say we gave at the blog.

Instead, and in conjunction with your many suggestions, we took the opportunity to go back over Zero Hedge's posts and see what moved you, with an eye towards getting a sense of what Zero Hedge wants to read.  The results were quite interesting.  We thought readers would find it engaging both as a sort of "year in review" post, and, perhaps, in finding old material missed the first time around (or before the discovery of Zero Hedge).

Though this is by no means a comprehensive list, and we have omitted a number of "big hit count" posts that may have repeated the subject matter of those listed here, or otherwise be dull (what weighty relevance could our T-Shirt post have?) the list below represents a good sampling of some of the most popular articles, reproduced here in (very rough) ascending order of popularity:

One thing we learned very quickly is that, as often as not, title is a strong determiner of post popularity on Zero Hedge. "Tiny Mauritius Tells US To Shove Its Dollar, Buys 2 Metric Tons Of Gold From IMF At $1,115 An Ounce" was one such.  The news that a small island was buying gold en masse hit all the hot buttons:  Gold.  Banana republics. The dollar as a reserve currency.  (The swimsuit picture might have helped too).

Obviously, the FDIC has been a frequent target of our curiosity.  Along with increasingly obvious signs of an impending nervous breakdown in Sheila Bair's on-camera appearance, the recent dip of the Insurance Fund into red ink prompted "FDIC Discloses Deposit Insurance Fund Is Now Negative," which, while unsurprising to those of us who have been watching for some time, was a good reminder that when you base insurance rates on something other than real actuarial data (like say, the impact those rates might have on a bank's bottom line) you get bankrupt insurance [companies|funds].  Of course, since the FDIC can "literally never run out of money," none of that really matters.  Right?

One thing leads to another, so it's not surprising that "Peter Costa: 'The US Government Will Be Totally Bankrupt In A Year And A Half'" ends up right next to Sheila in the popularity list.  Government spending is, of course, an important topic to Zero Hedge readers.  (Also, you seem to like videos from CNBC.  We aren't sure what to make of this).

We were amused to no end on discovering that a CNBC video re-post was just below "CNBC Viewership Plunges 50% In October" on the popularity list.  To be fair, Zero Hedge has relentlessly hounded the bag of schnitzel that is CNBC on the ratings issue.  This particular post prompted an angry call from a fairly senior executive in CNBC's public relations arm to our never-complaining but often beleaguered (and uncompensated) Executive Vice President of Answering the Hot-line wherein the CNBC exec berated our hero for not calling him directly for comment before printing and accusing Zero Hedge of being a shill for the Fox network.  When asked if the figures discussed in the post were inaccurate CNBC exec reportedly paused before intoning: "Well, that's not the point, is it? You are comparing against our biggest ratings ever at the beginning of the crash!"  Yes.  And?

Huge selloffs often result in the dusting off of some version of "The 'Money On The Sidelines' Fallacy."  As a bit of silver lining lore, it is looking pretty tarnished.  That didn't stop our examination of it from being one of the top posts of the Summer.

A constant and early debate at Zero Hedge was the viability of a philosophy that included a wealth of Deep-dive analysis as a mainstay of our editorial strategy.  Would an audience entertain repeated and highly technical postings day after day and keep coming back for more?  Or would we drive away the interest if we did not dumb down the content.  As "deep-dive" goes, and begging the audiences pardon for the shameless self reference, my occasional pairings with Geoffrey Batt tend to peg the Zero Hedge complexity meter into the red with a combination of legal and financial wonkism.  "Is The Fed Facing Margin Calls From European Banks?" was no exception.  A hybridized subject matter including AIG, the circumventing of banking regulation, margin calls and backstopping by the Federal reserve combined to propel what was otherwise a highly technical post to one of the top 25 in Zero Hedge history, despite it being less than a month old.  Apparently, you Zero Hedge readers don't need "dumbing down" to remain interested.

It would be entirely impossible to catalogue a list of popular (or influential) posts at Zero Hedge without including "Is A Case Of Quant Trading Sabotage About To Destroy Goldman Sachs?" in a prominent spot.  Again, a combination of some classic Zero Hedge hot buttons (Goldman Sachs possibly influencing a young and impressionable U.S. Attorney, High Frequency Trading and the term "market manipulation") conspired to stress our servers.

Gold is a consistently popular theme at Zero Hedge so, in last month's runup, it wasn't hard to make some predictions a la "Is Gold Set To Hit $1,200 Within 24 Hours?"  Alas, we missed our call by 10 days.

Direct intervention in the equity markets by the Federal Reserve is a big "no-no."  But who cares when easy credit from the Fed can be used by primary dealers to go on a equity buying spree? We explored the answer to that question in "An Overview Of The Fed's Intervention In Equity Markets Via The Primary Dealer Credit Facility."  It was another highly technical (and yet highly popular) posting.  Kudos to you, oh, Zero Hedge reader of great complexity thirst.

We loves us some Janet Tavakoli.  So do you apparently, as the widespread interest in "Janet Tavakoli On Why Meltdown Risk Now Is Greater Than It Was In 2007" aptly demonstrated.  But then, who can fail to enjoy a firebrand like Tavakoli when she prompts the likes of Goldman Sachs to distraction?

One measure of Zero Hedge's success is the almost daunting stature of the many collaborators and guest posters our pages attract.  Articles with the likes of David Rosenberg as collaborators are, as one would suspect, intensely popular.  "The End Of The End Of The Recession" was no exception.

Need we insult you by explaining the popularity of "A Zero Hedge Petition: Break Debt Habit, Freeze The Debt Ceiling"?

It probably isn't a surprise that an article about phantom Treasury purchasers would be among Zero Hedge's top posts of all time.  That an article less than a week old would top many others with months of clicking under the belts already is, however, impressive.  Witness the massive click fest that was "Sprott Calls The Fed "A Ponzi Scheme" As Half A Trillion In Treasury Purchasers Are Unaccounted For".

The difference between real and nominal returns is oft ignored when the mainstream media engages in economic analysis based on equity prices.  Hence, our "DOW 10,000!!!! Oh Wait, Make That 7,537" got quite a lot of attention.  Never to be left out of the fun, the mainstream press has seemingly adopted the theme (10 weeks later).  We aren't holding our breath for attribution.

The Swiss Franc was redeemable in gold up until the year 2000.  Whatever else they are, the Swiss are stability obsessed.  Unsurprising, then, that "From Switzerland With No Love - Wegelin Bank Says Goodbye," a review of Wegelin's decision to abandon investment in the United States, drew so many Zero Hedge readers in.

As you might imagine, we hear a number of theories on why the Dollar is in a secular decline.  Still, our own analysis "Here Is Why The Dollar Is Now Effectively Worthless," used the apparently winning combination of QE and reserve analysis to wonder how anyone could ascribe a positive value to the fiat currency any longer.  Like it or not, you apparently enjoyed the discussion, as this post sailed effortlessly into our top ten of all time.

Closely behind was "Thousands Of Rusting Ship Hulls Are A Fitting Tribute To The Speculative Market Bubble," a bit of analysis that seems to have prompted a gaggle of writers worldwide to take a keen interest in satellite photos of idle shipping and GPS tracking sites for the world's mercantile fleet.  Of course, the obligatory flood of copy-cat analysis by more mainstream outlets followed hard upon.

My personal pick for best Zero Hedge post of all time "How The Federal Reserve Bailed Out The World" is also in the top five. I cannot imagine a forum in which this sort of analysis would ever find a public airing, or a place where readers could obtain a deeper understanding of the global interplay between central banks than is exemplified in this post.  Again, the fact that readers had a voracious appetite for the piece is a reminder than depth is not anathema to readership.

There is no way that, after a mere three days (and over the holidays no less),  "Brace For Impact: In 2010, Demand For US Fixed Income Has To Increase Elevenfold... Or Else" should be in the top four.  It is a deep, highly complex and analysis laden post.  True, there are colorful graphs, but even repeated readings by CNBC's color addled anchors could not explain the massive readership that hit this post on the afternoon of Christmas Day while the Christmas Ham (or non-denominational family dinner) was cooking in the other room.  Just, wow.

"Goldman Sachs Responds To Zero Hedge."  Yeah, so that was kind of popular.  Modest prevents us from further comment.

Arguments for the secrecy of the Federal Reserve, and pleadings for its continued independence, are always a big draw.  Still, we were surprised by the absolutely massive response to "Racketeering 101: Bailed Out Banks Threaten Systemic Collapse If Fed Discloses Information."  Massive enough, in fact, to make it the second most popular post on Zero Hedge.  Ever.

Number one "Shadowstats' John Williams: Prepare For The Hyperinflationary Great Depression" probably bears no further comment.

It has been a dauntingly popular year.  We look forward to the next one.  Join us? (Or die).

$118 Billion On Deck In Last Coupon Auction Of The Decade

The administration sure is learning how to take advantage of the Ritalin addicted, holiday sales overbonanza'ed (1% increase over last year's gruesome December performance surely must be terrific news) public. Not only did Obama hope the whole Fannie/Freddie BS would slip by unnoticed even as he paid the failed public servants over at the nationalized-in-perpetuity GSEs an insane amount of money, but this week the Cottonelle experts over at 1500 Pennsylvania Avenue tried to sneak a $118 billion in coupons and another $57 billion in bills, a total of $175 billion pieces worth of one-ply bidet replacements, for the last weekly auctions of the "noughties" (yes, apparently that is the name to this most recent lost decade, set to end in a few days. But don't worry Ben Shalom will be around to make sure its bubblicious legacy persists for much, much longer).

Amusingly, there is an increasingly acrimonious battle between the prop trading desks of bailout drama queens Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs over the future value of said Cottonelle substitute, the former seemingly believing that bonds are going much higher (with a report claiming that the 30 year is heading to 8% in 2010, who do you think MS' clients will be selling bonds to?), while Goldman getting increasingly nervous about the economy and having investors buy even more bonds with the 10 Year expected to somehow hit 3.25% (again, Goldman's prop traders will be happy dump said security to long-only idiot money).

The full breakdown of this week's action, which will see $101 billion auctioned off just today.

Below is an artist's rendering of what the last calm before $2.5 trillion UST 2010 $2.6 trillion in gross coupon supply ($1.8 trillion net) shitstorm looks like.

Frontrunning: December 28

  • Morgan Stanley sees the 10 year at 5.5% in 2010, Goldman Sachs at 3.25% - someone's prop desk is going to get spanked (Bloomberg)
  • Tanker freight rates to drop 25% as 26-mile long line of idled tankers runs out of fumes (Bloomberg)
  • Deflationary side effects: Japan Finance Minister admitted to hospital (Bloomberg)
  • Ferguson - The decade the world tilted east (FT)
  • Summers - The man who blew up Harvard's portfolio, has set his sight on the US next (WSJ)
  • Buffett doing the patriotic thing and firing 21,000 employees of companies that did not get taxpayer bailouts (Bloomberg)
  • Everyone confused how to spin a possible (but not certain) 1% holiday retail bounce into fabulous news after last year's retail rout (NYT)
  • Mortgage anxieties mean Fannie-Freddie limbo as Fed pulls back (Bloomberg)
  • Yuan forwards retreat after Wen rejects appreciation calls (Bloomberg)
  • Isn't this man in jail? Conrad Black discusses the dismal decade. He sure has his reasons (NationalPost)
  • Bear Stearns parties on as banks scrap events (Bloomberg)
  • Internet sales tax scofflaws cheat state (LA Times)
  • Is NYMag becoming a blog? The Wasserstein holding tries to boost Grant's subscription sales (NYMag)

 

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